Actress Nandita Das is all set to
make her debut as a stage director with play Between the
Lines that explores the intricacies of gender inequality.
"What is intriguing is that the educated and affluent class assumes that 'we are all sorted'. In our class it's more subtle and deceptive ... Finely woven into the fabric of our relationships," Nandita told PTI here.
So, she says, it has been interesting to explore the idea of relationship between couples that are supposed to be equals.
Her work with the less privileged has made her even more sensitive to the issue, says Nandita, who has also co-authored the play, besides acting in one of the two central roles.
Playing double roles, she has also acted the role of another women in the play drawing from her experience in street theatre with Safdar Hashmi.
Between the Lines is a contemporary play set in urban India where well-educated, affluent couples enacted by Nandita and Subodh find themselves caught between modernity and tradition.
Maya and Shekhar are a lawyer couple married for 10 years. Shekhar is a high profile criminal lawyer, while Maya balances work and life drafting routine contracts for a law firm. They end up argiung on opposite sides of a criminal trial resulting in the blurring of their personal and professional lives.
English has been chosen as the language of the play. Asked about it, Nandita said she was only being true to the characters and the milieu. "Nothing is forced in the play ... English has become the language of the class that this play is set in."
There are firsts to the play - the only other actor is debutant Subodh Maskara, her husband. It is also the first production of their new company Chhoti Production Company Pvt Ltd that intends to explore various creative media to tell compelling stories in the country and beyond.
"The commonality has been that the people tend to discuss the play and what it says, way after watching it and for me that is what I wanted. Considering it is the first time I am writing and directing a play and my husband is acting and producing it, there is a lot we are learning and discovering," she says.
"The audience response has not been too different in the different cities as true human emotions and relationships are universal," she added.
The play she feels is evolving with each show. "However, it will take 50 shows before it will be where I want it to be," she said.
Subodh, an entrepreneur who is on a sabbatical to pursue creative passions, gives the credit of his being an actor to Nandita.
"I have to say it was inspiring to work with Nandita as it pushed me to work harder as I knew the benchmark was very high," he says conceding there were times when he lost his confidence.
Subodh, who had trained with theatre stalwarts Waman Kendre and Mahesh Dattani, says the couple did have some disagreements on the play.
"But finally all for the good as we are happy with the response."
The play marks Nandita's return to the stage after a long gap of eight years. Her previous outings in the stage were plays of Safdar Hashmi during her college days in the late 1980s and later with Shabana Azmi and Zohra Sehgal.
The Firaaq director and writer, in the city for her back to back shows of the play, says exploring a new medium is 'fascinating'.
"Not knowing its (play acting's) grammar frees me from defining it in a particular way," Nandita, who was awarded the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in acknowledgement of her contribution to the Arts, says.
'Between the Lines' has been co-authored by Divya Jagdale, who had earlier written two plays. The play is based on a theatrical adaptation by writer-academician Purushottam Agarwal's Mard ka Aasuon which was inspired by a 1960s Hollywood comedy Adam's Rib.